German school bans Muslim students from using prayer mats

'Muslim pupils in the school building are praying, clearly visible to others,' letter to staff says

Jon Sharman
Thursday 02 March 2017 22:46
School administrators claimed the use of prayer mats was 'provocative'
School administrators claimed the use of prayer mats was 'provocative'

A school in western Germany has banned the use of prayer rugs and other traditional Muslim rituals saying it is “provocative” to other students, sparking a debate about freedom of religion.

The Gymnasium Johannes Rau, in the city of Wuppertal, sent a letter to staff in February saying Muslim students had been using prayer rugs and performing ritual washing in the restrooms, and that they should get a “friendly reminder” it's not permitted and will be reported to the administration.

After strong criticism when the letter was posted last week on Facebook, municipal authorities said the wording was “unfortunate” and the school had only meant to bring affected students in to discuss a solution to allow their prayer, Bild newspaper reported on Thursday.

Authorities say the school was, however, legally allowed to stop people “praying in a provocative manner.”

According to Deutsche Welle, the letter said: "In recent weeks it has been increasingly observed that Muslim pupils in the school building are praying, clearly visible to others, signalled by ritual washings in the toilets, the rolling out of prayer mats, and taking up certain postures."

"This is not permitted."

A spokeswoman for the local district council told DW: "The ban on praying in a 'provocative way' in the school is intended to promote peaceful coexistence and ensure the school peace."

Additional reporting by agencies

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in